Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920)
Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920)

Portrait of Sterling Holloway

Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920)
Portrait of Sterling Holloway
signed and dated 'Thiebaud 1965' (upper left); signed again 'Thiebaud' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
17 x 22 in. (43.1 x 55.8 cm.)
Painted in 1965.
Estate of Sterling Holloway
Acquired from the above by the present owner
C. Biederman, "Gotta Be Me," Dallas Observer, no. 918, October 5, 2000, p. 2.
E. Leffingwell, "Wayne's World: Charting Wayne Thiebaud's Career from Pop Pioneer to California Landscape Painter," Art in America 90, no. 2, 2002, p. 84 (illustrated in color).
Belmont, Notre Dame de Namur University, Wayne Thiebaud: Figurative Works 1959-1994, March-April 1994, n.p. (illustrated).
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection and New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective, New York, 2000, p. 116, no. 45 (illustrated in color).


Jennifer Yum
Jennifer Yum


While Hollywood films have been glorified with so many striking and unique character actors, few have been more instantly recognizable then Sterling Holloway. In Wayne Thiebaud's Portrait of Sterling Holloway from 1965, the artist captures the actor's familiar features while emphasizing his iconic shock of hair which along with his distinctive voice defined Holloway's character for decades. Holloway had an extraordinary voice, which he used professionally for voiceover work for animated cartoons beginning in 1941 at Walt Disney Studios. Most notable Holloway was the voice of the Cheshire Cat in Alice and Wonderland and the voice of Winnie the Pooh.

Although Thiebaud's works has been categorized as Pop Art, he actually belongs to a more classical tradition of painting. In Portrait of Sterling Holloway, Thiebaud uses a bold color palette and vigorous brushwork which could be considered reminiscent of the Abstract Expressionists. Thiebaud exploited the possibilities of color, shadow, brushwork and line treating a portrait as a "still life." Holloway is turned to the viewer as to a camera lens, with a contemplative gaze. Thiebaud's intense psychological scrutiny of his subject and his dense brushwork relate to the work of Lucien Freud.

An actor and also an avid art collector, Holloway amassed a collection of contemporary art in the 1960s and '70s when he lived in Laguna Beach. Holloway was a supporter of the main avant-garde scene in Los Angeles and had an eye for works with a Pop sensibility. His collection focused on West Coast artists of the 1960s. In 1962, Holloway, who came to know Thiebaud through his friend and fellow artist William Theophilus Brown, acquired his portrait directly from the artist. Holloway's Collection was shown in the UCLA galleries in 1964 and included works by Larry Bell, Tony Berlant, John McLaughlin, and Ken Price amongst many others.

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